Friday, July 30, 2010

Food and Architecture

Food and architecture yet again. My wife is an amazing cook and can craft just about anything from homemade mac and cheese to hand rolled grape leaves. I on the other hand, am fascinated by building and architecture and while doing some research on both topics I came across this place.

A 19th century carriage house turned into a cafe with offices on the second floor.

A ton of volume with natural light inside and the utilization of the existing materials makes this one of my favorite structures.

Photos via Dwell and Remodelista

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Outdoor Contessa

My wife is obsessed with food and any TV shows relating to food. She was watching Barefoot Contessa the other day and I have to say, Ina Garten's house, barn (where she actually films) and grounds are all pretty amazing. Carving out a subtle arch really creates an openness within the covered space in her outdoor living area (pictured above).

She has a bluestone terrace outside her barn. Bluestone is a great option for outdoor areas. It is really durable and can withstand harsh winter temps.

(Images: Simon Upton / House Beautiful)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Use A Little Imagination

There are times when we get into a renovation and come across items that can and should be salvaged. And then there are times when we are working with a client that is looking for something unique to complement an entry way or accent a library or study.

Again, a great salvage warehouse can be just the place to fulfill both needs. You can find salvaged items that might just need to be stripped and repainted, but have some craftsmanship. You can even find items like these faucet handles that can be reused or used as hooks in the kids bathroom.

Take a piece like the one above and transform it into a Mud Room sink with storage above. Pull the top shelving unit off, drop in the sink and faucet and maybe change the paint color. A little imagination with a salvaged piece can go a long way.

There are two places that we have used locally - The Heritage Company 2 (photos above) in Royal Oak, MI and Materials Unlimited in Ypsilanti, MI.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Concrete Tile

I'm always looking at little details and today I noticed some concrete tiles from Ann Sacks. One of the things about the concrete tiles is that they absorb the heat from the day and slowly release it during the evening hours. There's no kiln involved like you would have for a more traditional construction. It's concrete, so a mixture of sand, gravel and cement poured into a mold and left to dry. Artist Andy Fleishman has created a really creative line for Ann Sacks. The patterns are very cool. These would be pretty kick ass in a Foyer or Bathroom. Even a Mud Room.

Photo via Period Homes

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eco-Friendly NYC

We just finished dinner with a woman who lives in the Riverhouse building in New York City. It is a complete eco-friendly building in Battery Park City and it looks amazing. I like the idea of living in a modern environment in New York. The look is so clean and the surroundings so beautiful that you can just imagine relaxing here after a busy day in the city.

The lobby and all the residences were designed by David Rockwell. The fireplace surround is pretty cool and really balances the volume of the entire space.

The building itself and the residences all have super clean lines and a modern look.

I do like the light tone of the cabinetry with the clean white walls and countertops.

And, many of the windows are triple layered as to keep the building more temperate. Not too bad. I could definitely get used to living here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kitchen Makeover

I came across this before & after today and I thought it was a great way to show how any space (big or small) can be transformed.

It's hard to believe this clutered and dated space was transformed into the modern kitchen in the first picture.

I like how they made the kitchen much more modern with the quartz countertops and the cool tone tile backsplash.

That is a lot of tile, but it definitely works in this space. I think it is a perfect New York kitchen.

(photos via The Kitchn)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


My wife got me hooked on vacation rental sites over the years. I now not only check these sites for our travel, but also to get inspiration. This Tuscan Farmhouse is pretty cool. The setting is pretty crazy, but the stonework just makes it.

I'm all for exposed brick or stone in a living space. I have always been a fan of bringing the exterior materials into the interior of a house.

No caption necessary. I want that pizza oven.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Modern Classic

It's a modern take on a claw foot tub and it works so well with the dark floors. I'm not opposed to hardwood in the bathroom. I think the floors really complete the space. Really - how often do you find the floors in your bathroom soaking wet? Be a little different. Go with hardwood. They even incorporated radiant heat underneath the floor. So nice. Nothing like warm floors no matter where they are.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm starting to see a pattern here, I talk about hardwood a lot. But, it's only because there are so many cool ways of doing hardwood floors, siding and interiors right now that can really add character to any project of any budget. Remodelista had a great post about the small Vail, CO based Arrigoni Wood the other day.

Arrigoni specializes in wide plank engineered European flooring while also featuring a reclaimed wood product line containing flooring, beams, architectural details and siding.

This Limed Dark Oak look is pretty sweet. They achieve this by using a thermo-treatment and utilizing a white oil to get the black/white contrast. This would be cool in a study or a modern kitchen.

This house in Aspen has a Rustic Ash floor. I like the way the finish gives it both a modern and rustic look at the same time.

Reclaimed wood siding was used on this cabin in Colorado. This type of siding is super low maintenance and is perfect for the woods.

(photos via Arrigoni)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pewabic Pottery

Being a Michigan builder, I am always trying to use local materials and vendors for our projects. I was researching fireplace surrounds and Pewabic Pottery immediately came to mind. Pewabic is a 100+ handmade pottery manufacturer right here in Detroit. I have seen these tiles used on fireplaces, backsplashes, bathrooms and floors. The glazing process they use and the unique colors they offer make Pewabic a unique product.

Pewabic is not only known for their craft, they are also known in the community for education. Their goal is to educate students each year that art actually can be a possible career path. It's a pretty amazing company.

(via Pewabic Pottery, The Urbane Life and Belle Isle Home)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reclaimed Barnwood

Barnwood just has that mystique to it. It has history attached to it and when you repurpose it in a remodel, new construction, or just about any project, it lives on.

I came across a custom builder in Texas that does some historic preservation work and they literally stock pile salvage items. When they see something they like they just get it. They design/build on the finish and pull from the various salvage items in their inventory. I love the creativity.

There are literally companies all over the country that supply this well crafted material. Black's is out of California and has a huge selection of beams, flooring and siding. This is a job they supplied in northern California. The volume and overall space is perfect for the size of the hand hewn timbers and the rustic barn siding ceiling decking. I also like how they tied in the mantel with a hand hewn piece.

Pure Style blogger Lauren Liess had a pretty inventive idea for using reclaimed barnwood as an outdoor table.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Clean Cut

There are so many trends out there when it comes to bathrooms. However, there are still some simple, yet unique, solutions to transform any bathroom. This Kohler tub has a tile surround that is pretty simple using long brick-style tiles in various heights (2" tall, 4" tall and 6" tall.) It would have been really easy to just use the same height across the board and you'd get a nice looking tub surround. But, just creating a little interest with the different tiles really gives it a little more character. The tub is pretty cool too with an option for a storage surround in the front to hide away all of the little things that clutter up the sides of a typical tub.

(photo by Kohler)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Salvage Finds

A custom look of quality and craftsmanship does not have to come with a steep price tag. I really think there are a ton of ways to add character and charm to your space without spending top dollar. One of my favorite tricks for saving some money is to visit a salvage warehouse.

We found an old 1890's solid oak door with a beveled oval window and hand carved recessed panels at an architectural salvage warehouse for dirt cheap. We bought the door early on in our project and had it sanded down and restained.

It now adds a ton of character to the front of the house and creates a unique focal point for our small foyer.

A couple quick tips for great finds at a salvage yard:

- Be proactive. If you find something that has an odd shape like an old door or a stained glass window, you'll want to do so early on so you can easily incorporate it into your project

- Ask questions. Talk to the salespeople in the shop. They are usually really passionate about their finds and can give you details about finishes, eras and history.

- Think big and small. Doors and large pieces aren't the only things you can score at salvage yards. We once did a house where the owner and I found old school glass doorknobs for all of her doors. They would've cost a fortune new and that small detail really added a ton of character.

(Pictures by Tim Capaldi)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Concrete Countertops

Granite has held the reign as countertop king for years, and for good reason. It never chips, it is durable, easy to clean, comes in a lot of color variation, etc. I have granite in my own home for all of those reasons.

However, there are a lot of options out there and concrete is one of them. People get scared of concrete because it is a cast product that is thought to be very porous and prone to cracks. Good companies, like J.Aaron Concrete, stand by their products and have taken steps to ensure their product is as pressure resistant (7,000 PSI, meaning that it would take 7,000 lbs of pressure per square inch of pressure to crack the surface) and stain resistant as possible.

The patina of the concrete and the fact that they can match any paint color is a huge bonus. The mixture of this more 'industrial' counter top with a more traditional cabinet is a great look and something that I would definitely consider it in my next home.

Concrete would also be a cool idea for a bar countertop/sink (I really like this tile backsplash too.) If you go with a quality product, red wine will definitely not stain.

(photos by J.Aaron)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cold Beer And A Pool

Hot is an understatement for the way it's been feeling in Michigan. I could really go for a cold beer and a nice pool. The stone on this Birmingham, Alabama poolhouse is pretty insane. Newer construction with an older rustic feel.

Another nice stone job. This time on the pool surround. The size is perfect and all the materials and patterns blend well, from pool to house. How about the roof too?...looks like a combo of slate and metal.

Before we had a baby, we took a trip to Santorini with some friends. The view from our pool was amazing.Now that we do have a baby, this pool by Sixx Design would work just fine. My wife loves anything by the Novogratz's.

(top two photos via Things That Inspire)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Anniversary Weekend

Not only inspired by the craft of building and our family business but most importantly by my beautiful wife, Allison. It's our 6 year anniversary. Have a great weekend everyone.

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